Chapter 373

“Let’s grab something to eat,” Gyunglim spoke as she hooked her arm around Maru’s.

Maru looked at her face before pulling out his arm.

“I’m planning to eat at home.”

“I’m not going to tell you to treat me, so let’s go.”

Maru stared at Gyunglim who pulled on his arm.

“I like to make things clear. Especially when it comes to relationships.”

Gyunglim let go of his arm and tilted her head.

“So?”

“We can eat together, that’s fine. After all, in a broader sense, we are colleagues that are working together. But after hearing what you said to me before, I think your intention is clearly not the ‘colleague’ sense of eating together. Am I wrong?”

Gyunglim brushed side hair behind her ears and smiled.

“So, you’re really not interested in me?”

“Yes. Really.”

“Then why did you act like that to me before? Why were you kind to me?”

“Anyone can act like that out of kindness. Isn’t it courtesy to worry about someone even in words if they look uneasy next to you?”

“So it was an act out of kindness?”

Maru nodded. What was this called again, princess syndrome? It was good that she was confident about herself, but the way she conveyed that to the others around her was a big problem.

“R-really?”

Gyunglim’s expression became uneasy as she bit her lips slightly. She was really easy to read. She was like this during the last shoot as well. She was the type to blurt out what was on her mind and instantly regret it. Put in a good way, she was brave and put in a bad way, she didn’t think much. It seemed that her ego was big enough to think that everyone around her liked her, but Maru didn’t know how to put it in order to make her understand.

“You should fix that habit of yours to blurt out what’s in your head. If you don’t, you’ll be misunderstood by a lot of people. Also, stop fantasizing after you shut up because you look like you’re in a bad position. Likewise, the misunderstanding becomes bigger as well. Lastly, I’m a married man.”

“M-m-married man?”

Gyunglim scanned him before slowly taking steps backwards.

Maru shrugged. A moment later, Gyunglim made an angry expression after realizing that it was a joke, but she immediately loosened it.

“...Then let’s just eat together. I don’t want to eat by myself.”

“Don’t you have any friends?”

“I don’t. I, I mean, it’s not that I don’t but….”

Gyunglim started biting her lips after blurting that out. Looking at her now, it was quite interesting to watch her. She wasn’t a bad girl at heart. She was just awkward at expressing herself and fantasized a lot, which made her unlikable.

“Are you treating me?”

“Me?”

“I lent you an ear and even gave you a diagnosis, I think that’s worth a meal.”

“...Yeah, it’s a waste, but okay.”

“There you go again.”

“What?”

“You didn’t have to say the latter part.”

“It’s not good to deceive people, right? It’s better to be honest.”

Maru smiled when he heard the textbook answer. Well, she was right, in a sense. The plant known as the art of living did not exactly sprout from the soil known as ethics.

“You’re going to eat something cheap, right?”

“I’m not that shameless.”

Maru pointed at the kimbap restaurant right in front.

* * *

“It’s not.”

“It is.”

“I’m serious. This is real.”

“Put your hand on your heart and say that again. Really?”

“Uhm, yeah!”

“Think about what your hesitation means.”

“You damned….”

“Don’t swear at me.”

“I’m not doing this!”

Gyunglim snorted and started eating the ramen. Maru thought that she’d order a roll of vegetable kimbap due to considerations of her weight, but she ordered pork cutlets, a roll of cheese kimbap, a bowl of ramyun with cheese, and even a bowl of jeyuk-bokkeum to go with it, all for herself.

“Noona. I’m not joking around. Did Ahn Sungjae’s eyes really look serious when he looked at you?”

“I told you so. We take the same class, and we met eyes several times!”

Bits and pieces of ramyun spewed out from her mouth. Maru quickly avoided them. Gyunglim looked at the food fragments on the table before quickly wiping them away with some tissue. Then, she wiped her mouth with the same tissue as though nothing had happened.

“Ahn Sungjae from TTO fancies you?”

“How many times do I have to tell you?”

Gyunglim stuffed more kimbap in her mouth out of frustration.

The start of the story was like this: Right after they ordered some food, Gyunglim started talking about Sungjae. They were taking classes together, and it seemed that he took fancy in her.

Hearing those words, Maru burst out laughing, and things led to one another up to this point.

“They say multiple coincidences is fate.”

“Yes, I heard that before. And it’s also been discovered that it’s completely useless. 

“Would we have met eyes if he didn’t look at me?”

“I thought there were only three in the class. Gwangseok-hyung, Ahn Sungjae, and you, noona. You don’t like Gwangseok-hyung, right?”

“Yeah. I totally hate that guy.”

She didn’t hesitate at all. Maru nodded and asked again.

“And you said that the instructor is quite scary, right?”

“Yeah! When she stays still, she looks very lofty and looks like she won’t talk at all, but once she does open her mouth, it’s an endless wave of storms. Moreover, you don’t know how harsh her training sessions are. I’m not sure if I’m going to learn acting or gymnastics.”

“Meeting eyes with someone like that makes you feel unpleasant, right?”

“Of course.”

“There, we have a conclusion. Where else can you look? The only one left is Ahn Sungjae. In the end, the only reason you met eyes with him is not because Ahn Sungjae is looking at you, noona, but because you are ogling Ahn Sungjae all the time. Okay?”

“....”

“Looks like you think what I’m saying is true since you’re staying quiet.”

Maru looked into Gyunglim’s eyes as he ate some pickled radish. When he looked into her eyes, a speech bubble popped up above her head.

-Fine, you’re smart. You’re right. Yeah, that’s right! Let’s say you’re right!

“Fine, you’re smart. You’re right. Yeah, that’s right! Let’s say you’re right!”

She blurted out what was exactly on her mind. Maru started laughing again. At this point, she was a human treasure; one that did not know how to hold back.

“You can say all that, so why did you stay still back then? People dislike you because you stay silent for everything else but blurt out things that poke their conscience.”

“...That’s because I’m not used to speaking in front of others. No, I hate doing so.”

“And yet you’re trying to be an actor?”

“Acting is different. It’s work. But talking to a crowd of people is too hard.”

“I get it. You actually ran into a lot of trouble because you talked too much, right? And that’s why you stay silent.”

“You know well.”

Gyunglim put the spoon inside her mouth and just moved it up and down.

“You should really learn to tell lies and suck up to people. You’re an adult, you should be able to do that. I think twenty-one is plenty old enough.”

“Hey, I know that too, you know?”

“If you know, then you should put it into practice. Also, don’t think that all men like you. When I look at you, I feel like you’d get your entire life’s savings scammed by someone.”

“Me?”

“Yes. Tell me honestly. Have you ever dated someone?”

“N-no. How did you know that?”

“It’s obvious from looking at you. Who would like a girl who acts proud because she thinks everyone likes her? Even if they did like you, they’d probably feel horrible from seeing how you act and walk away.”

“Why?”

“Why? Unless it’s unconditional love, love goes both ways. You should look for one-sided devotion in fiction. Think about it. There’s a man who has an interest in you. He approached you in hopes of developing his feelings into love, but you suddenly say ‘I know everything already. You like me, don’t you?’ to him. How would he feel then?”

“...Good, probably?”

“Oh my word….”

“Th-that’s not it? Why? Whether he likes me or hates me, he should just say it. He has an interest in me because he likes me, right?”

“There are things called stages. Also, being honest isn’t always the answer. Especially when it comes to relationships.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s me who doesn’t understand. Are you even Korean?”

“I am.”

Gyunglim fiddled with her smartphone as she pouted.

“What are you doing?”

“Talking to my friends.”

“I thought you didn’t have any.”

“I do.”

Now that he thought about it, Gyunglim stared at her phone a lot during the last shoot as well. She was also on her phone the entire time throughout dinner at the BBQ restaurant last time.

“Should I show you my friends?”

She looked like someone who liked to boast about her friends. Maru nodded. He did wonder what kind of people they were. Gyunglim proudly showed him her phone screen. There were several messages. However, the names of the senders were quite strange.

“Are they foreigners?”

“No, they’re Korean.”

“Then why are their names in English?”

“Oh, that? It’s their IDs.”

“IDs?”

“Yeah.”

“What IDs?”

“Blog IDs.”

“...Oh.”

“What?”

“Have you ever met the people you’re texting in person?”

“N-no.”

“...I guess internet friends do count as friends.”

Gyunglim connected to the internet on her phone. She showed him the blog she was using on her tiny phone screen. Curiously, it was a blog related to calligraphy. Maru was worried about her phone bill. It would probably cost a lot to keep scrolling through the page like that.

“Your phone bill will go up if you use it that much.”

“It’s fine.”

She didn’t seem to worry about it that much. After showing him around the blog for a while, Gyunglim continued speaking.

“Look, they’re all good people. They never get angry. Everyone’s honest.”

“Sure.”

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

Maru smiled and looked away. He didn’t know whether she was a good girl or not, but she was definitely a kind person. People like her were extremely rare in the current era. She maintained her honesty in an era where teachers taught the kids to be honest but being honest never had its good sides.

“Uhm, hey.”

“Yes?”

“Actually, there’s one more reason I asked you to eat with me.”

Gyunglim hesitated for the first time since coming to the restaurant. Maru ate the last piece of pork cutlet and spoke.

“What is it?”

“Can you teach me acting?”

“Eh? Me?”

“Yes. I saw it. How should I put it… Yes, it gave me the chills. I also want to act like that.”

“I thought you were already learning from an instructor.”

“I am, but I want to learn it in an easier way. You’re good at talking, aren’t you? Teach me, okay?”

“Forget it. I have my hands full as it is. I’m not teaching anyone.”

“If it’s money, I’ll pay. How much do you need?”

“Fine. It’s 5 million won. Not anything less than that.”

“Alright. That sounds fine.”

“Eh?”

Maru stared at Gyunglim for a while before chuckling. So she knew how to joke around after all.

“Forget it. Go learn from that instructor. Rather than that, let’s get going since we finished.”

“Hey!”

Maru picked up a toothpick before quickly leaving. Gyunglim quickly followed him and panted.

“Thanks for the meal.”

“Why did you run away?”

“I thought you were the one buying.”

“Yeah, but still.”

“Then I don’t see a problem.”

“Dammit. Leaving that aside, say yes. Say you’ll teach me.”

“I told you to learn from that instructor.”

“I hate that instructor. She’s scary. You just don’t know what she’s like. I made one mistake and she gave me an earful. Do you have experience running to death in this weather? Well, I do. That instructor, I mean, that woman stops at nothing.”

“Wow, she must be good.”

“I get that she’s skilled. Yes, that woman’s good. But she doesn’t suit me.”

“Then quit.”

“No, I can’t do that. Since I started it, I must do it until the end.”

“Then I guess your only choice is to endure.”

Maru felt a little tired since he just ate. He yawned as he walked towards the bus stop. Gyunglim snorted and followed him.

“Aren’t you going your way?”

“I’m also going this way! I have a lesson in an hour.”

“With that scary instructor?”

“Yeah.”

“Good for you.”

Just as he said that, his phone rang.

“Hello?”

-Han Maru. It’s me.

“Senior Miso. What’s up?”

-You heard from senior Junmin, right? That you need to attend lessons.

“Yes. Oh, are you the one teaching me?”

-Correct.

“Phew, is there physical training this time as well?”

-Acting requires stamina as well. Rather than that, what are you doing now? If you don’t have anything, come on over.

“To where?”

-Film, the academy in Gangnam.

“Oh? I’m in Yeoksam-dong[1] right now. I’m nearby, so I should be able to go soon.”

-Really? That’s good. This place is near Gangnam station.

“I’ll give you a call once I arrive at the station then.”

He hung up before looking behind him.

“I got an appointment, so I need to get going.”

“Fine, go. You damn prick.”

“See you next time.”

He waved at her before walking towards Gangnam station. He walked for quite a while before turning around, and he saw that Gyunglim was still following him.

“Are you still following me?”

“I said I’m going this way as well.”

Gyunglim angrily walked ahead of him. Maru shrugged as he walked.


[1] Gangnam station and Yeoksam station are only 1 (train) station apart

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

Maru is about to join the class now...?

Save Sungjae from annoying 1 and annoying 2!

Editor's Note:
I'm debating renaming annoying 2 to idiot 1 or maybe rich idiot 1. Don't know yet. We shall see.